Which side are you on? Book, 2018 | by Artemis Potamianou

Sculpture / Wood and metal birdcage(s) and appropriated object(s)

55 × 30 × 26 cm

© Artemis Potamianou


Which side are you on? Book, 2018

Series: Which side are you on? Cages

“Appropriating the manly role of the curieux [2], [Potamianou] infuses it with her own female substance. After extensive research she collects various objects from a plethora of different sources, choosing items directly associated with the female world. An antique children’s game, a pair of a girl’s velvet shoes, miniature doll’s house furniture pieces from different epochs, dried butterflies as symbols of the psyche, artificial trees, keys, a ballet dancer sculpture by Degas, standing clocks, hourglasses, metronomes, and revolutionary literary masterpieces that question women’s status-quo. In these dwellings, void of birds, Potamianou creates microcosms, three dimensional still-lives. The cages are transformed into Lilliputian theatrical scenes. Projections of women’s conscious and unconscious. Files of archetypal memory.

The enclosed compositions narrate stories about the tender childhood years, marriage, motherhood, the private sphere as a nucleus of activity, portraying women’s traditional daily-life as a confined life. Gradual cinematographic perception of images and comparative vision are automatically activated, provoking analogies and correlations. In this environment, spectators become themselves collectors of new experiences related to the world and history of women, auditors of silent confessions of soundless subversive dreams.

A radically different female condition, recounted with humor by Potamianou, shakes the hierarchical structures of patriarchal society. The work is in direct dialogue with Man Ray’s L’ Aenigme d’Isidore Ducasse – the simulacrum of which was included in Potamianou’s Second Papers (2006)– and Ducasse’s famous phrase cited at the beginning of this text [3]. Here, the sewing machine/the female element – in this case, her grandmother’s old Singer machine with the worn-out fabric crystallized in time – is stripped bare of Man Ray’s oppressive cover. Ray’s blanket is here tightly wrapped around the umbrella which is nailed to the cage. The male phallic symbol has magically sprung from Ducasse’s verses and entered into the artistic composition. Potamianou displaces the enigma and the sense of mystery raised by Man Ray to the opposite sphere, the public male domain.” – Bia Papadopoulou, 2018

[2] The collection of rare species and objects, usually in relation with an interest in science, was associated with men.

[3] Man Ray’s work is inspired by Isidore Ducasse’s specific phrase. Μan Ray, L’Enigme d’Isidore Ducasse, https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/man-ray-lenigme-disidore-ducasse-t07957 (accessed on 20/11/2018).

© Artemis Potamianou

Artemis Potamianou is an artist and curator living and working in Athens. Her work focuses on issues of perception. She explores the triptych artist, artwork and exhibition space, criticising standard curatorial practices and raising questions that defy the art system. In a constant dialogue with art history, she appropriates seminal works and deconstructs them only to reconstruct them again into a new reality. Her works feature familiar images in unfamiliar settings, absurd visual juxtapositions, and the simultaneous presence of different epochs in one story. Potamianou creates uncanny visual narratives – frequently to be experienced mentally and bodily – imbued with caustic political and feminist connotations.

Potamianou has had 25 solo exhibitions. Venues have included the Hellenic American Union (Athens), the Borough Museum and Art Gallery (Newcastle), the MAC (Midlands Art Center of Birmingham), Fizz Gallery (Athens), Tint Gallery (Thessaloniki) and Pleiades Gallery (Athens), amongst others.

She has participated in more than 130 group shows, at the 1st Biennale of Thessalonica, the BIDA – Biennale of Spain, the 3rd Athens Biennale, National Museum of Contemporary Art (Athens), State Museum of Contemporary Art (Thessaloniki), Vista Mare Foundation (Pescara), International Young Art 2002: Sotheby’s Amsterdam, Sotheby’s Tel Aviv, Sotheby’s Moscow, Change and Partner Contemporary Art (Rome), «Greek Sale»- Bonhams (London), The Benaki Museum (Athens), Biennale Internazionale Dell’ Arte Contemporanea (Florence), Open 15 – International Exhibition (Venice), Tensta Kulturhus-Tensta house of culture (Stockholm), etc. Potamianou completed her BA(FA) at the School of Fine Art (Athens) in 1997 and has subsequently received an MA degree from Staffordshire University (1999).

She has curated more than 60 exhibitions by influential artists of international relevance such as Joseph Kosuth, Damien Hirst, Joseph Beuys, Terry Atkinson, Peter Greenaway, Candice Brietz, Guerrilla Girls, etc.

Potamianou is also the founder and Director of Platforms Project – Independent Art Fair, the presenter and producer of Art Therapy, a radio talk show about visual art at Beton7 radio, since 2011, and the Editor in chief of visual arts for GRA Review (a magazine of architecture and design) since 2010. Potamianou is on the board and has been the Treasurer of AICA HELLAS (International Association of Art Critics) since 2015. Potamianou has written essays for exhibition catalogues and books.